Editor’s Note: November 22, 2013, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s death. On that day, he will be given a place in Westminster Abbey’s renowned Poet’s Corner. In commemoration of this event, all this week Christ and Pop Culture contributors will be writing about the works by C. S. Lewis that have been most personally significant to them.
A dear friend much older and wiser than myself first introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Letters To Malcolm. At the time he suggested that I read it, I was wrestling with melancholy over the state of contemporary evangelicalism: the tribalism, consumerism, and lack of historic rootedness. Maybe I was spending too much time on Twitter or reading too many blog comments, and I needed a break. Letters To Malcolm was my break.
It was written as a series of letters to a (fictitious) close friend, chiefly on the subject of prayer, and in a mere 124 pages Letters To Malcolm is a powerful read. The book beautifully defines the mysterious, often irksome relationship between God and man in prayer. Lewis does not shy away from the tension of the holy “otherness” of God, the difficulty of praying in earnest, and the beauty of true intimacy with God through Christ; he lets it all simmer together.
Letters To Malcolm helped me detach from the tangible “nouns” of life and dive into the transcendent “adjective-like” beauty of God through prayer and reflection. Lewis reminded me that the material present tense is not the ultimate reality but that “Our prayers, and other free acts, are known to us only as we come to the moment of doing them. But they are eternally in the score of the great symphony.”
Lewis gave me a glimpse of the relationship between God and man with a proper — and oft lost — reverence for the grandeur of God. He painted a sweeping landscape of prayer, from the simplest prayers in a church service to the day coming when prayer will no longer be a duty but a delight.
These short letters made me long for that day and remember why I love the Church. Because, like a fond memory, everything — including the flawed church and my weak prayers — that was “sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption.”
Letters To Malcolm has grown close to my heart, like letters from a dear, old friend. Few other books convey such powerful truth with such endearing and welcoming warmth.
Photo via Barnes and Noble.